Here's another sign that wind energy is coming of age: Wind law is now piling up in court precedents and is being taught at law school. ...Hamilton's wind law course covers the gamut of the legal nitty-gritty about wind energy, including easements and leases, property issues, land-use regulations, utility regulation, metering and financing, and state and federal tax, energy and environmental policies.
Hamilton's class is one of three in the United States. The University of Texas at Austin has a wind law class and so does the University of Oregon in Eugene.
"With turbine farms going up all over Iowa, it's the next logical step,"
The Sac County, Iowa Sheriff's office says they're investigating what caused a semi to start a chain reaction accident that sent a utility pole into an Early, Iowa restaurant.
Authorities say 38 year-old Glen Forbes was driving a trailer loaded with wind turbine blades when the rear steering malfunctioned.
Times have never been better for wind power. The industry's growth rate doubled last year, and additional turbines are going up across the country.
But the industry is heavily dependent on a federal tax subsidy that's set to expire at the end of this year. And the industry's growth is steadily increasing the cost of the subsidy and making it tougher for lawmakers to keep it going. ...Last year, the industry added 5,244 megawatts of capacity, more than twice the 2,454 megawatts added in 2006. That brought the nationwide capacity to 16,818 megawatts.
But that growth also means that continuing the subsidy for one more year, through 2009, would cost taxpayers $3 billion.
"The problem with a long-term extension is that it's cost-prohibitive as long as the industry continues to expand. Budget-wise, it's hard to do it for an extended period of time," said Frank Maisano, an energy industry lobbyist.
Several Fayette County landowners are considering establishing a bloc of land suitable for generating wind energy.
"We'd like to get between 8,000 and 10,000 acres in a single bloc and offer it to an energy company," said David Burrack of rural Arlington, coordinator of the effort.
Burrack and several associates held a meeting Wednesday night at Starmont High School attended by more than 50 area landowners.
"Right now we are just trying to see if enough landowners are interested," he said, adding that only 20 percent of proposed wind farms ever get built.
Burrack said he believes a corridor covering about 60 square miles between Arlington and Maynard would be favorable for the generation of wind energy.
These roadways, also known as "service roads," are usually used by farmers who need to get from one end of their property to another, and are nowhere near strong enough to handle what MidAmerican has in store for them.
Because the prospective sites for these wind turbines can be a considerable distance from highways and county roads, Level B roadways will need to be substantially beefed up to handle trucks carrying wind turbine parts weighing several dozen tons. The roadways would have to be widened to 33 feet, as well. ..."They've got equipment five times the legal load limit," he said. "On B level roads, there's not enough rock. It'll be adding rocks to dirt roads."
Members of the board of adjustment unanimously approved a special exemption allowance to Ulland Brothers. The company, which is based in Austin, Minn., wants to use rock from the quarry to build access roads for a nearby project to erect a wind turbines. ...Blasting and crushing can only take place from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. Residents will be notified before blasting takes place.
"A siren signal will sound before we start any blasting," said Valerie Raverty, aggregate manager for Ulland. "We don't foresee any problem with notifying people with phone calls, either."
Plans for a $600 million 300-megawatt wind farm in North Iowa are moving forward.
The Iowa Utilities Board granted a regulatory waiver last week to Horizon Wind Energy to create its Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm in Howard and Mitchell counties.
The waiver allows two of the 12 lines receiving electricity from the turbines to be over the 25-megawatt limit.
Construction is expected to begin this year, said Doug Jones, senior project manager. Jones and other local company officials work out of offices in Grand Meadow, Minn. ...The company also got a waiver of property owner notification requirements. State regulators say it's not necessary since wind projects don't have the same noise and environmental issues as gas or coal-fired facilities.
State regulators have granted a waiver to a Houston firm allowing construction of a $600 million wind farm in Howard and Mitchell counties.
Construction is scheduled to begin this year on Horizon Wind Energy's Pioneer Prairie Wind Farm. The developing will consist of 182 turbines spread over 60 square miles near the Minnesota border. ...Regulators noted in granting the waiver that the two lines only exceeded the 25-megawatt threshold by 1.4 megawatts each, and that Iowa's economic development policies encourage renewable generation. Reducing the regulatory burden is one way to advance that public interest, the ruling said.
Iowans who try to go "green" with ethanol or wind power will unwittingly contribute to greenhouse-gas emissions, say energy officials.
That's because the Iowa companies that make ethanol and wind-turbine blades are largely powered by coal, a chief source of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases.
Officials with Alliant Energy, which has proposed a new coal-fired plant in Marshalltown, told the Iowa Utilities Board recently that if Iowans want renewable energy, they will need more electricity from coal plants.
That left environmentalists who are fighting the plant shaking their heads.
While the wind hasn't stopped blowing across the prairies of southwest Minnesota and northwest Iowa, the 40-turbine Endeavor Wind Farm near Harris, Iowa, hasn't been able to fully capitalize on the gusts for several months now.
Officials with the wind farm, developed by Clipper Wind, discovered late last summer there was a timing issue in the secondary stage of the power train.
"It was ... what we would call a start-up issue - supplier related," said Mary McCann-Gates, director of global communications for Clipper Wind's Carpinteria, Calif., office. "In a nutshell, some of the power trains that we made early on had a timing issue on some of the gears." ...The Endeavor Wind Farm at Harris was purchased by Florida Power & Light in August 2007. Because of the repairs Clipper Wind must make, the acquisition process has not yet been completed.
Cass County residents might start seeing large trucks passing through the area as work on MidAmerican owned wind turbines begins in the Cass and Adair County areas.
Cass County Engineer Charles Marker told the Cass County Supervisors on Thursday that six MidAmerican owned turbines would be going up in Cass County, and 76 in Adair County. ...The supervisors discussed whether or not the county roads would be able to handle the heavy loads, and Marker said he thought most Cass County roads would be fine.
"But we will have to look at each bridge along the route," he said, after exact routes were established.
Iowa's booming wind-energy industry hasn't blown into the eastern part of the state, especially Scott County.
Geography and economics make the eastern part of the state less attractive to energy producers that have made Iowa the fourth in the nation in wind energy production behind Texas, California and Minnesota.
Wind speeds are higher in the northwest and north-central parts of the state than in the eastern area. Costs of production and transmission must be weighed against what producers can bill customers, too.
"You will notice the wind speeds in the northwest part of the state are 1-2 mph faster than in the eastern part of the state," said Bill Haman, project manager for the Iowa Energy Center. "That is a huge difference."
Wind energy is booming in Iowa, and backers say it's only the beginning. ...But the jobs could blow away, economists warn, just as other manufacturing jobs have disappeared because of competition and technological change. Other states want to attract manufacturers, too. Wind power depends on subsidies, and changes in government policies could dampen the enthusiasm for wind. ...John Solow, a University of Iowa economics professor, is cautiously optimistic about the future for wind generation and turbine manufacturing.
Future policy decisions and technological innovations could change that, he said. A breakthrough in clean-burning coal, for example, could reduce interest in wind energy and biofuels, he said.
The plan calls for a wind farm that will generate 150 mega watts of energy. To achieve that goal 100 turbines, each generating 1.5 megawatts of power, will be erected in several different locations in Hancock County. All the turbines will be connected underground through a grid system with power lines running from turbine to turbine. ...FPL is still waiting for approval from the Iowa Utilities Board (IUB) for the transmission lines.
The company plans to install transmission lines to bring power from the Crystal Lake wind farm to the Lime Creek Power Station, which is located south of Manly.
“We have easement agreements with all the land owners needed for the transmission lines. Three or four have expressed concerns, but these are not individuals that the transmission lines cross their property,” Stengel said.
The project's official name is "Capacity Expansion by 2020," or "CapX2020" for short. It is being driven by an alliance of 11 different utility companies throughout the region, which covers all of Minnesota as well as parts of North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa and Wisconsin.
The power line planned for this area is one of three 345 kV lines proposed at different areas of the state as part of the the CapX2020 project. The project also includes construction of one 230 kV line between Bemidji and Grand Rapids.
A public hearing for residents of this area is scheduled for next Tuesday, in Cannon Falls. It is one of many meetings still to come during the CapX2020 planning process. ...Rate payers from all area power utility companies will see an increase in their bills as a result of the CapX2020 construction, he added. Though Fordice could not put a specific amount on how much the increase to utility bills will be - probably $1.50 to $2 a month - the project itself is going to cost $1.4 billion, which will be divided among all 11 utility companies.
Horizon Wind Energy's expansion efforts have generated a new need: maintenance of the turbines and the system. LeRoy's the likely site of a facility for an operations building that's planned by the wind energy company.
"It's not concrete yet, but it's very likely," said Horizon's operations manager Kevin Clark. "One way or another, we'll be building an operations building next year, and right now, it's almost certain it will be in LeRoy." ...The 200-megawatt site being built next year, called Pioneer Prairie, will consist of 122 turbines, with plans to possibly add 60 more turbines in 2009. The wind farm will run west from LeRoy to Stacyville, Iowa.
The top executive of a Warren-based wind-turbine blade maker said the decision to build a new manufacturing facility in Iowa, rather than in Rhode Island, was based on that state's proximity to the market in which the blades will be used.
The blades made by TPI Composites are typically 35 meters to 40 meters long, and can weigh 10,000 to 20,000 pounds each, said Steven C. Lockard, chief executive officer of the company.
Transportation costs for these blades, which are typically shipped by truck, can run into the "tens of thousands" of dollars, he said in a telephone interview Wednesday.
"In this case, there really wasn't an option for this particular factory to be located in Rhode Island," he said.
Land acquisition for the 100-turbine wind farm proposed by Crystal Lake is complete but the project still must jump through some regulatory hoops before construction can begin.
Steve Stengel, director of corporate communications for FPL Energy, said the company is waiting to hear about a request for utility permits for overhead and underground utility lines in Hancock County.
Iowa is currently the third largest producer of wind energy. One land owner is standing in the way of a proposed project in our area.
Dave DeBoe lives north of Ventura. He's in the path of proposed power transmission lines. They would stretch from a 100 turbine wind farm west of Crystal Lake , all the way to The Lime Creek Power Sub-Station south of Manly.
This summer DeBoe found surveyors working on his property. He was surprised to find out they were marking the path for a row of 85 foot tall power lines going across his land. Now he's fighting to get the company to move the project somewhere else.
Land acquisition for the 100-turbine wind farm proposed by Crystal Lake is complete but the project still must jump through some regulatory hoops before construction can begin. Steve Stengel, director of corporate communications for FPL Energy, said the company is waiting to hear about a request for utility permits for overhead and underground utility lines in Hancock County.